Blacksburg -- It was fun.
That seemed to be the prevailing sentiment of those who attended the first downtown Blacksburg celebration of "Deadwood Days" this weekend.
BALLOONS BOBBED in the air--yellow, white, pink, orange, green, and red. There was cotton candy and snow cones. Dogs barked and scampered around. Horses kept the clean-up crew busy.
Men, women and children strutted up and down the street, dressed like "Old West" cowboys, Indians and saloon girls. Dancers "flat footed" and "clogged" to strains of mountain music.
AND IT WAS made possible by the enthusiasm of a group of young downtown merchants here.
Richard Walters, manager of Books, Strings and Things, was one of the organizers. He told the Free Press Sunday, "I'm really pleased with the way everybody got together and pulled it off. We had a party and everybody enjoyed it."
Crowd estimates ranged from more than 1,000 persons on Friday and Saturday to about 500 on Sunday. There were intermittent rains, but none lasted very long.
TOWN POLICE patrolling the area said that no arrests had been made in connection with the downtown celebration.
And area residents pitched in, too. Walters said, "Thirty people helped us clean up Saturday night--just volunteered. We were sweeping and shoveling--it took us only 15 minutes after the program ended."
"TALK ABOUT community participation," he continued, "I've never seen anything like this."
But some of the older merchants were conspicuously absent from the event.
"They were skeptical about this and rightfully so, " Walters explained. "But everything went off smoothly."
Beside bluegrass bands, persons attending browsed at handcraft displays, munched snacks and posed for pictures in a special Deadwood setting.
YOU COULD EVEN KISS a pretty girl for a quarter.
Kathy Frye, an employee at the Virginia Tech Library, was one of the girls and guys offering kisses.
Clad in a saloon girl costume--gold with white lace, trimmed with gleaming sequins and beads and a garter around her thigh--she attracted numerous customers.
IN FACT the brown-haired young woman said she sold close to 100 kisses during the three-day event. Even Sheriff Barney Arnold enjoyed a kiss from her. "And one of the Blacksburg Police payed for him," Miss Frye said, laughing.
She is a member of the Blacksburg mountain dance group, The Horrah Cloggers. The money she and several others earned will be used to pay for trips to area dancing contests.
And it was not only a matter of kissing men. She said her first two requests were to kiss a couple of horses. Later she was asked to kiss a dog and two babies.
Who did she enjoy kissing the most?
"I PREFER GUYS my own age--college age," she said. "Believe it or not they're more considerate and gentler."
Miss Frye said that a young man had stood in the kissing booth for a while, too. "But he gave only five kisses. I guess it's because the girls are shyer," she said.